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Join the people's jury

2010 April 7
by admin

BAE, arms supplier to some of the world’s most despicable regimes, has once again escaped real sanctions for corruption in its deadly deals.

In 2006, BAE escaped the process of justice when Tony Blair quashed the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into BAE’s multi-billion pound – and corruption-riddled – deals with Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes. This year, the Serious Fraud Office allowed BAE to buy its way out of trouble. In return for pleading guilty to “accounting irregularities” in its deals with Tanzania, it would end its investigations into BAE’s activities in South Africa, Romania and the Czech Republic.

BAE’s Chairman, Dick Olver, has dismissed criticism, claiming the deals are “historical. Almost archaeological.” We disagree. The repercussions of BAE’s behaviour are felt by civilians across the world – those whose lives are devastated by conflict, those who live under corrupt and repressive regimes, and those who see money needed for health, education and infrastructure diverted to arms. Here in the UK, we find ourselves subsidising an international company that is seemingly above the law.

We may not be able to see BAE held to account in a courtroom, but we’re not letting them off the hook. At their AGM on 5 May, BAE did not escape justice in the court of public opinion.  The People’s Jury  unanimously found a 12 foot BAE Chair guilty while the real Dick Olver was held to account inside the AGM.  See photos and a film of the action here.

Have your say too! Comment here to add your own judgement to the public record.

Disagree with what we’re doing? Then have your say on our debate page.

Clare Short on BAE's deal with Tanzania

2010 April 27
by admin

Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development at the time the UK government approved the sale of an expensive and out-dated military radar system to Tanzania, writes:

“The Tanzanian Air Traffic Control system was small money by BAE standards.  But the lengths they went to to sell an outdated military system to a country with no military need shows what a deeply corrupt culture they were working in.  After being rejected once, they came back a decade later with half the project.  By this time, Tanzania had debt relief and could only take on loans that were concessional.  They then got together with Barclays and pretended to offer a concessional loan, which is an impossibility.  By this time, Tanzania also had the offer of a European Investment Bank loan for a modern civilian air traffic control system also covering two other neighbouring countries, which was newer technology and massively cheaper.

My knowledge of this contract demonstrated with great clarity what a corrupt and dishonourable culture was prevalent in the company at that time.”

Add your voice to the People’s Jury!


Undermining South Africa’s Young Democracy, by Andrew Feinstein

2010 April 13

Andrew Feinstein, former ANC MP, writes:

When the ANC came to power in 1994, we were committed to reducing military expenditure in favour of much needed socio-economic spending. But there was an acknowledgement, not uncontroversial, that there was a requirement for some modernisation of the South African Defence Force, and a Defence Review took place. It identified equipment for peacekeeping that would cost just under 8 billion rand. By the time the arms deal is concluded in 2018, when payments end, it will have cost South African in excess of 100 billion rand.

The largest contract was for fighter and fighter trainer aircraft, a controversial requirement in and of itself given that the Air Force had at least 15 jets that had never been used There were nine bidders for the contract .and from these the Air Force Technical Committee drew up a shortlist of two. A bid by BAE/Saab was not on it: it didn’t meet technical requirements in some areas and exceeded others in a way that would be problematic for South African pilots; and it was two and a half times more expensive than the aircraft the committee wanted.

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BAE: a view from the US – Professor Koehler

2010 April 13
by admin

Mike Koehler is an Assistant Professor of Business Law at Butler University in the United States, and writes on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – a US federal law dealing with the bribery of foreign officials. This an edited extract from FCPA Professor, BAE, 5 February 2010.


In a joint enforcement action that is sure to generate much discussion and controversy, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the U.S. DOJ announced today resolution of an enforcement action against BAE Systems.

The SFO announced that it has “reached an agreement with BAE systems that the company will plead guilty” to the offense of “failing to keep reasonably accurate accounting records in relation to its activities in Tanzania.”

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